GARY Rowett lavished praise upon young Burton Albion midfielder Matty Palmer after another impressive display against high-profile opposition.
The 18-year-old was undaunted by Tuesday night’s test, despite the calibre of opposition which Bournemouth fielded, despite the swirling wind and rain, and despite watching his side concede four goals for the first time this season.
He showed similar poise when thrown in for his full Brewers debut against Premier League side Fulham earlier in the season, and has generally dealt with everything a first full season of professional football has thrown at him.
“The big bright spark for me was I thought Matty Palmer didn’t look out of place, out of anybody on the pitch,” said Rowett.
“He was as comfortable on the ball as any player for Bournemouth, he doesn’t give the ball away, and if we could have had two or three more Matty Palmers in there, it could have made the difference.
“He’s 18 years old, and he’s comfortable getting the ball, he wants it all the time.
“It’s a very easy game to hid in when you’re a few goals down.
“He’s shown he can play against any of the good teams, he can play higher up.
“The more time you have on the ball, the better he is.
“I thought he really shone out for us in his ability and his performance.”
With the prestigious carrot of footballing giants Liverpool to spur them on, Bournemouth were on the attack from the start of the match, scoring through Brett Pitman after just five minutes to put Albion on the back foot immediately.
And Rowett admitted he was disappointed that some of his players did not match that enthusiasm, meaning they were unable to replicate one of the results they enjoyed against higher opposition earlier in the season.
“We’ve had some really good results in the cup against good sides,” said the Pirelli chief.
“We’ve knocked Leicester out of the Capital One Cup, we’ve knocked Sheffield United out twice, and we were two minutes away from beating Fulham.
“I was hopeful we could have made the game more difficult for Bournemouth.
“And I was disappointed because one or two of my players maybe could have done a little bit more to justify the game.
“I don’t think the players did themselves justice.”
Bournemouth’s first two goals came from forrays down their left flank, where Phil Edwards and debutant Adam Buxton endured a torrid evening.
After that early Pitman opener, Jimmy Phillips equalised with a deflected shot, but Ryan Elphick re-established the lead on the stroke of half-time, before late goals from Ryan Fraser and Pitman again completed the rout.
“Any time we tried to press the ball, we left space in behind and they did what they wanted to do,” said Rowett.
“You can’t allow a good side space.
“That was something we’d talked about a lot, that we couldn’t allow any space early on, and we had to try and frustrate them.
“We thought if we could get in at half-time at 1-1, we could try something similar in the second half and see how it goes.
“We know what a good side Bournemouth are and we knew we were going to have to do certain things very, very well to have a chance.
“But to concede goals at the times we did was really frustrating.”
The original encounter fell foul of the weather, and Rowett joked: “At 70 minutes I was tempted to say to the ref that the game was in danger – and it looked to me like the players’ safety was in danger.
“But I’m not sure he was going to take too much interest in that at that point.”
Burton Albion Official Supporters’ Club are trying to get a second coach together for the trip to Bury on Saturday.
The coach will departs the Pirelli Stadium at noon, returning around 7pm, with seats priced at £11.
For more information, contact Cheryl Smith at the club.